We’re quickly approaching another milestone in Earth Observation satellite deployment, as we get ready for the launch of GOES-S, the next major addition to the NOAA satellite fleet. Once it’s operational, this bird will become GOES-17, the new GOES-West satellite and will overlap it’s view of Earth with GOES-East to cover the Western Hemisphere.
On November 19th, 2016, the night sky over Cape Canaveral was ripped open by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, carrying the first of the next generation of NOAA weather satellite, GOES-R into space. Just a little more than a year later, after calibrations, testing, and a move to its permanent location, the newly designated GOES-16 became our new GOES-East satellite, on December 18th last year.
The entire GOES-R series of four identical satellites, GOES-R, S, T and U. Are equipped with Advanced Baseline Imagers, designed to scan the western hemisphere five times faster, with four times the image resolution and three times the color channels of our older legacy systems. That means much faster, extremely more accurate observations of severe storms, tropical systems, smoke and volcanic ash.
As a matter of fact, last year, months before officially operational, the ABI on GOES-16 helped National Weather Service offices detect wildfires in Kansas and Oklahoma, well before the first 911 calls came in!
During severe weather, another incredible GOES instrument, the Geostationary Lightning Mapper, can shoot 500 images per second, as it tracks cloud to ground strikes, and lightning activity in the the clouds that charge the atmosphere. New research indicates that increased lightning activity may be a predictor for tornado formation, so with the GLM, forecasters have another powerful tool to help warn us earlier than ever before.
Once operational as GOES-WEST, GOES-S will be followed to orbit next year by GOES-T and in 2024 by GOES-U, keeping this lifesaving satellite series operational through 2036.